If you think copyright laws were enacted so authors and their publishers can control the public’s use of their work and make themselves rich, think again. The U.S. Constitution empowers Congress to give authors and inventors an “exclusive right” to their creations “for limited times” as an encouragement “to promote the progress of science and useful arts.” In other words, the product of an artist’s or inventor’s imagination is meant to be used.
All of the ways people make use of images on the internet—from sharing photos and videos via email and on social media, to reading PDF selections of published texts that professors post on UVACollab—would be impossible if it weren’t for the concept of fair use. As long your private use doesn’t interfere with the owner’s commercial use of the work, you most likely don’t have to get permission from the copyright holder, and you may be able to use more of some copyrighted material than you think, but only if you have good reasons.
To help patrons understand their right to fairly use copyrighted works, the Library has released a new video in which Director of Information Policy, Brandon Butler, explains in simple terms what fair use means and what its limits are: